Mothers attitudes toward childrens eating linked to childrens obesity

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 21Mothers worried about childrens penchant for gaining weight might influence kids obesity more than previously thought, according to a study from investigators at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and colleagues.

A moms concern about her childs weight and her pressure on the child to eat are directly related to the childs total fat mass, according to research published in the March issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The study is the first to show such a relationship. The more a mother worries her child is overweight and will need to go on a diet, the fatter the child tends to be; however, the more a mother pressures her child to "finish everything on the plate," the lower the typical total fat mass in the child.

"These findings are important for obesity prevention efforts, because they illustrate specific behaviors in parents that can be modified," says lead author Donna Sprijt-Metz, Ph.D., USC assistant professor of research in preventive medicine at the USC Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research. "Concentrating on parent education and making more family-directed dietary interventions may be needed to combat childhood obesity."

The growing prevalence of obesity among children and teens has prompted health experts to call the problem an epidemic. Today, about one of every four American children is considered obese. Children who are obese tend to become obese adults, and obesity is associated with numerous health concerns such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory problems and diabetes.

Researchers followed 120 white and African-American boys and girls ranging in age from 7 to 14, recording their body fat using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). They also asked mothers about their child-feeding attitudes. They found no relationship between variations in total body fat and the childs gender, socioeconomic status or ethnicity.

The group also found that

Contact: Jon Weiner
University of Southern California

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